It's been a while since we've had a Chicks and their Polls moment, so I thought I'd start off with a look back at the off season. Most pundits say the Avalanche did little to nothing to improve the team and consistently grade the off season for the burgundy and blue a C at best. What do you think, MHH faithful? Were the Avs' moves as bad as all that? Let's look back at what they did.
The off season technically starts with the draft, so let's look there first. For the first time in a number of years, Colorado did not have a top half pick. Thus, the first rounder was anyone's guess, and lots of people guessed wrong. As a refresher, here's a list of all the Avalanche draftees for 2014:
|1||23||23||COL||CONNER BLEACKLEY||C||CAN||6' 0"||192||WHL|
|3||24||84||COL||KYLE WOOD||D||CAN||6' 3"||195||OHL|
|4||3||93||EDM-TOR-COL||NICK MAGYAR||R||USA||6' 1"||194||OHL|
|4||24||114||COL||ALEXIS PEPIN||L||CAN||6' 2"||218||QMJHL|
|5||24||144||COL||ANTON LINDHOLM||D||SWE||6' 0"||191||SWEDEN-JR.|
|6||24||174||COL||MAXIMILIAN PAJPACH||G||SVK||6' 1"||207||SLOVAKIA-2|
|7||24||204||COL||JULIEN NANTEL||C/LW||CAN||6' 0"||193||QMJHL|
The Avalanche aquired Daniel Briere in a trade with the Montreal Canadians, one that saw PA Parenteau and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft go the other way. The trade came with a lot of criticism as many insist that Parenteau is still a productive top-six forward, while Briere is a has-been. Others noted that PA is a product of his linemates, and the post-season experience and success of Briere made the trade reasonable, though most agreed the addition of the fifth was questionable. There's no denying that the young squad would have benefited from Briere's experience in the playoff run against the wild.
The defense for the Avalanche has been suspect for many years, and fans hoped that it would be addressed by bringing in some talent. Excitement about adding a new defenseman withered when it was announced that the new blood was Brad Stuart. Another middling and aging player was not what the team needed, fans and analysts alike declared. Again, the impetus behind the acquisition seemed to be experience, particularly in the playoffs. Said Joe Sakic upon the trade, "He is a proven, quality defenseman." The trade didn't cost much—just a couple of picks (second-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft and a sixth-round choice in the 2017 NHL Draft), so the potential is there to make it a win. He does have something to offer the team in toughness and a steady hand, something the young players could benefit from.
After an impressive rookie season, Nick Holden was rewarded with a contract extension. Holden was a pinching wizard whose timely goals in the playoffs became a major talking point surrounding the Avalanche. He was second in goals for defensemen in the regular season, and cashed in at fourth in both assists and points, all the while only playing 54 games. His playoff performance was even more impressive as he lead the blueliners in goals and points (3 goals, 4 points). His contract came in at a reasonable three-year, two-way deal with a cap hit of $1.65 million.
The biggest signing of the summer was a free agency day acquisition of future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. The Avs were rumored to have had bigger fish in mind, but as the day wore on, Iginla seemed to be the main target. In fact, as more information has come out, it appears Iggy was a primary target for some time. Using former teammate Alex Tanguay and legend Joe Sakic as marketers (not to mention a three-year deal that other teams weren't willing to give), the 37 year old picked Colorado among a plethora of suitors. While some question the winger, pointing to his age and suggesting he's over the hill, one only need to look at his numbers to realize the old man still has plenty of gas in the tank. He also addresses a need on the team as team captain Gabe Landeskog is the only true power forward on the squad. The toughness and net presence, not to mention sickly accurate shot, of Iginla will certainly bring more fire to an already potent offense. The cap hit of $5.33 million over the length of the contract could be steep if his play falls off considerably, but the experience and leadership he brings will more than likely make up for it.
The saga continued with Ryan O'Reilly as the center-turned-winger demanded star money the Avalanche didn't want to pay. Both sides took the extreme on their starting negotiating points, and a deal just couldn't get done. While O'Reilly had a great season on Matt Duchene's side in 2013-14, his overall resume didn't seem to support the money the RFA wanted. However, none of it was a surprise to anyone after a hold out and subsequent offer sheet put O'Reilly's salary last season in the realm of significant over-payment. The stand off lasted until seconds before high noon with a contract being signed outside the arbitration doors. In the end, the sides agreed on a reasonable two-year, $6 million deal, one that had fans shaking their heads as it was the obvious figure from the get-go. With the exodus of Paul Stastny, signing O'Reilly was absolutely key for the Avalanche, so in the end, it was the best possible outcome for both sides.
Exploding onto the Avalanche scene after benchings and demotions, Tyson Barrie made everyone believers of the young offensive defenseman. He was Mr. Clutch last season, leading the defense in game-winning goals (5) by a large margin, coming in behind offensive powerhouses Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly and tying rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon. Losing him early in the playoffs was a large contributor to the team's first round exit, and coach Patrick Roy didn't hesitate to call him the best blueliner on the team at the time. While he hasn't officially been signed—a situation that is making many a fan extremely nervous—this off-season move is important enough to preemptively put on this list. The figures on the potential contract could range anywhere from the two-year at $2.5 million to the 4x4, putting the value of this deal in an unstable position.